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Smith's Blog

Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:32 AM by Smith Yewell

The Wisdom of Crowds

I read a story once about guessing the number of jelly-beans in a jar. The jar was on the counter in a candy store, and a sign invited anyone to drop their name in a box with their guess of the total number of jelly beans in the jar. After a month, over 400 people made a guess, but no one guessed the right number. However an enterprising math student, who ate too much candy and could not sleep that night, decided to average all of the guesses to see what number the “crowd” guessed. Turns out, the crowd average was correct!

There is even a book on this topic. According to Wikipedia: “The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations, first published in 2004, is a book written by James Surowiecki about the aggregation of information in groups, resulting in decisions that, he argues, are often better than could have been made by any single member of the group. The book presents numerous case studies and anecdotes to illustrate its argument, and touches on several fields, primarily economics and psychology.”

So how do we harness the wisdom of the “crowd”? Well, one idea is organized communication and knowledge sharing across our industry from the translator level through to client's end-users, and I expect this concept of "crowdsourcing" will continue to grow.   I know there are great ideas at all levels of our supply chain, so get excited about sharing, and you will quickly see that together we can guess the number of jelly beans in jar and even much greater things!

Smith ...

Posted Dec 2, 2009 at 4:06 PM by Smith Yewell

Microsoft has described the future of their company as "3 screens and the cloud." What this means is that Microsoft products and services are moving to the cloud (a subscription or software as a service basis for buying and using their services/products) delivered on-demand to 3 devices: PC, Mobile Phone, TV/Game Console. The services and products will be always-on and on-demand with steady, streaming and seamless updates.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, described it is a “fundamental shift in the computing paradigm.”

This also represents a fundamental need for a shift in the localization paradigm.

Here is how I see the shift from a high level:

The old world
Customer buys a license to a product or information service, installs the application on their PC, discards the hard copy installation and support material, calls the supplier multiple times with support questions, waits for the next release and wonders why it is not easier.

Localization Provider receives email with files from client, prepares quote, waits for client to approve quote, starts a project, starts a cycle of handoffs in the translation supply chain, waits for each handoff to complete, gets stuck in what is often an endless review cycle, sends invoice for the project, waits months for feedback, payment and the next release. Faces risk of losing business when a new project manager is hired on the client side, laments the fact clients don’t appreciate translation and is frustrated by the lack of true collaboration and partnership.

The new world
Customer subscribes to a product or information service in the cloud, goes to the online community for advice, support and training, turns-on the streaming updates offered by the provider pointed to the devices of their choice (Desktop, Netbook, Mobile Phone, TV, Game Console) – enjoys the latest and greatest anytime, anywhere on any device.

Welocalize collaborates with client to define and set-up an optimized translation supply chain, defines and sets-up the translation and end-user community, defines and sets-up the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from the translator all the way through to the end user. Flips the switch of the “Translation Utility” built upon an open-source, open-standards platform, catches everything that streams through, constantly refines, adjusts and optimizes - and invoices the client once per month. Rejoices during Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) along with the client team and their VPs where all are cheering about how the amazing KPI is showing higher search engine page rankings, increased traffic, longer customer visits, lower support costs, increased customer loyalty and increased sales in-country for the client. Signs deep partnership deals and collaborates to produce amazing innovation and successful business outcomes for all.

Smith ...

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